After the Kanzleramt years and aided by the impact of 'Sex With The Machines' album in the electro world, Antony Rother made a new home for his puristic electronics, the Psi49net label. Participating in almost every release as musician or producer, he slowly built a new school electro sound.
With total respect to Kraftwerk and the Miami/Detroit masters, with seemingly simple but totally effective programming and bass heavy but still clear analog production, focusing on the funkiness of the robotic beats and on spacious melancholic ambiences, he paved a road lots were soon going to follow. Similar only to the electro side of The Advent and the more Detroit oriented of the Clone/Bunker guys, totally oblivious of the 'electroclash' crap fad of the time, he played his robofunk around the world, collaborated with Karl Bartos and a hundred more, published the magnificent 'Little Computer People' project and ruled. Even Electrolux records decided at this time to have a more electro output and gave us Microlux, on which Rother had the first release. Sometimes the bass is so full and the breaks so groovy and shuffled that it's hard to mix Rother with other tracks without them sounding weak.
Then he abandonded the Psi49net projects, created Datapunk and changed his style a little to fit the emerging electro techno current, still with quality results. Nowdays Datapunk is well known with releases by Sven Vaeth and Kiko (respect!) and all the younger & emerging new heroes of the 'scene', etc., etc., and stands beside Great Stuff, Craft and all these great commercial german labels.
But PsiCity is different. For me only 'Bad To The Bone' had the same drive thereafter. Truly underground stuff, with totally special sound, it will always have a place in my heart. This 2CD compilation packs some of Rother's 'hits' ('Don't Stop The Beat', 'Simulationszeitalter', etc.) along with lots of unreleased tracks by all artists of PsiCity, all interesting and some just excellent. Downtown CD dives deep into dancefloor electro funk Afrogermanic style, while the Uptown CD variates through electro pop, IDM, electro techno bangers and melancholic vocoder ballads.
I dont' really remember where I got the Piano mix of 'God of the Gods'... but it's nice.
Anthony Rother presents Electro Commando 1 -
2002 Welcome To PsiCity
Part 1 - Part 2 Downtown CD.
Part 1 - Part 2 Uptown CD.
God Of the Gods (Piano Mix)
This is a compilation issued in 2005 of Cybotron tracks released on Fantasy label from 1982 to 1985 with two X-Ray tracks from 1987. For the oldschool fans mostly, as most of these are in mono and sound like they were transferred from tape (which probably is the truth anyway).
Interesting view in the first steps of Juan Atkins, although I would emphasize a little bit the influence of Rick Davis aka 3070 on the whole concept and theory that gave Cybotron its special character and later was copied by all Detroit. Major influence sounds to be Kraftwerk as far as the sounds and rhythm go but the music genre I'd say is Space Funk, dopey and jazzy and dreamy stuff flowing over those robotic beats. It's a reminder for all those who forget the influence of '70s soul-r'n'b-funk music on electro.
Cybotron - 2005 Motor City Machine Music.
An Exploration Of Cybotron
Part 1 - Part 2
Again, not much to say. Another Wolfgang Voigt project, GAS released 1st album at 1996 and this trilogy during the next four years at the legendary Mille Plateaux, along with some remixes here and there, mostly in Kompakt.
Mostly using strings and FX over a bass drum, W.Voigt manages a wall of sound totally psychedelic and lyrical, yet unsettling and spooky. The first two albums are deep and dark, sometimes like a blizzard on the Mountain of Magic mentioned in the title, sometimes like a night ride through a thick forest. 'Pop' is different, more ethereal, based on flute and harp samples. Comes like the sunrise to scatter the fears, still the feeling of awe is there.
GAS - 1997 Zauberberg [MillePlateauCD45]
Part 1 - Part 2
GAS - 1999 Koenigsforst [MillePlateauCD65]
Part 1 - Part 2
GAS - 2000 Pop [MillePlateauCD83]
Part 1 - Part 2
'Koenigsforst' was downloaded from Square Dancing In A Round House blog, go there and read Voigt's interview also (thanx man).
Soon I'll upload the first one.
Fly back to grandma continent.
In 1998 Kompakt label was officially born. From very early, founders W.Voigt, J.Paape and M.Mayer tried to establish its name as a pop culture phenomenon through the standard use of custom graphic design (following the Profan/Auftrieb example), their city as a symbol and, more importantly, custom sounds. All labels aimed for the spreading of this special kind of trance derived and house infected minimal techno, trademarked as 'Cologne minimalism'. Obviously did a VERY good job, as now Kompakt is as large as it can get, the Cologne sound is everywhere and Michael Mayer is rightly considered one of the best and more respected DJs internationally.
Back then apparently he needed a little introducing. As far as I know, this is his first released mix CD, released by Neuton. Fully promoting the local sound by the Voigt brothers, Joerg Burger, Jurgen Paape, etc., alongside some close friends' work (Herbert, R.Fluegel, etc) and some personal contributions (Zimt, Forever Sweet).
Try to place that CD where it belongs, in 1998. At that time only the Basic Channel posse was in a similar path in Germany, while outside Detroit the world danced to disco house, psy trance and was happily shocked by Daft Punk. Maximalism at its peak, I'd say. Anyway. I like Kompakt better at it's later era, where it had established a balance between the neu trance aesthetics and the monomaniac glitchy tool tracks. Still, it's a rare CD to listen and it's nice to spot that Mayer was playing back then with the same attitude he still does.
Everytime I hear 'Fackeln Im Strum' after all these years it still feels the same.
VA - 1998 Mix CD
Kompakt Koeln praesentiert Michael Mayer
Part 1 - Part 2
In the same vein with the previous post, Heinrich Mueller as Der Zyklus in 2004 releases this one in Clone's electronic (as opposed to electro...) sublabel D.U.B. Abstract dark ambient tracks flow thickly over a really interesting concept, yet still it feels that it's a solo effort, a little single-minded and simple. Of course only compared to previous and later efforts of the same people, full of the crossbreed of styles and ideas that characterize them. Still, it's a Drexciya Nation record.
Der Zyklus - 2004 Biometry
Part 1 - Part 2
Gigolo 99 vinyl release in 2003 presented two tracks of rare beauty by Dopplereffekt. The CD version that followed was a weird long play including these and four more.
Instead of the typical Drexciyan electro or the '80s retro sound of earlier releases, a more experimental approach was attempted. Two repetitive fully FXed dark & noisy abstract tracks of 21' and 14' duration each for a start, followed by a 15' ambient excursion into really deep space. Then the 12" tracks fall from the sky, full of analog synth beauty and melodies and weirdness. Borrowing heavily from the Berlin School of Kraut electronics, it's like they're out of a '70s soundtrack for a sci-fi film or a thriller, such as the ones Tangerine Dream members produced in plenty (check some of them here). The closing act is the more typical Drexciya one, sweet pads and soft arpeggios over a chopped, no bass drum electro beat. Overall it's a difficult album, with it's three quarters of being too weird for the average Gigolo fan and no beat at all.
A smart move of Mr.Hell, this one. Although experimentation was always a part of Gigolo mentality, it was only the second time a listening album was issued (after the Tuxedomoon one which didn't go well I think). Only Dopplereffekt could made this effort more accessible to the critics and interesting to the listeners at the same time.
After this one Gigolo tried to make a drastic turn towards more 'difficult', non dancefloor music, away from the '80s electro and oldschool techno norms (although there was always an appropriate remix available). The infamous NYC associated Gigolo Rock phase came along with the Fisherspooner releases and kept me away from Gigolo for some time (I liked the older ones more, no other reason). It's interesting though that after four years rock influenced electro still rules the market. Hell was making a leap forward then and soon others followed (he took no credit for that).
Still, this for me is the last release of the first era of Gigolo, even if it's an atypical one. And it's a Detroit affair. Check the vinyl if you find it.
Dopplereffekt - 2003 Linear Accelerator CD
Part 1 - Part 2
P.S. In Drexciya Research Lab, a different opinion is stated here on the reason of this album's inaccessibility.
Some more forgotten jewels.
Neil Ollivierra aka The Detroit Escalator Co. has been an active part of the Detroit scene since very early, yet with only scarce releases through the last decade. An obviously talented musician (just one among other artistic skills), first released two 12"s in 1996. The first of these was included in his later first LongPlay 1996 release "Soundtrack " on Russ Gabriel's Ferox Records, now deactivated. A personal top ten of all times album, it's an ambient masterpiece and simply one of the best sounds to ever come out from Detroit.
Later Peacefrog took care of all D.E.C. releases, starting in 2000 with the "Black Buildings EP", most of which was included in the "Black Buildings" album. During the same year, both of the first 12"s along with a yet unreleased track appeared in "Excerpts". Later on in 2003 a remix track appeared in Charles Webster's "Remixed in the 24th of July", and in 2006 a Ltd.Ed. (see previous post) 10" "Blue Science/Between Dubnotes EP".
Again, so few have heard of The Detroit Escalator Co., it's a shame. Although after "" all releases became more introvert and never peaked that high (personal opinion), they're still important to have and to listen too. When I'll be able to upload from vinyl, I'll post the rest of them. For now:
The Detroit Escalator Co. - 1996 Soundtrack 
The Detroit Escalator Co. - 2000 Black Buildings EP
The Detroit Escalator Co. - 2001 Black Buildings
Part 1 - Part 2
Charles Webster - Put your hurt aside (The Dub & Space Mix by The Detroit Escalator Co.)
taken from this compilation
P.S. I realize Ferox is revived through digital only releases. Hope it goes well, GO AND BUY '' if you find it there.
Indulge me for the long post. There's a story I need to share.
Once upon a time, in an second hand vinyl store I came upon a 10'' in an would-be-exquisite but was-badly-pressed folder. I have one worn-out copy of this somewhere in my place. We recorded this with a band I was then part of it in the early 90s.
It was what now is called a 'Limited Edition'. By that I mean that neither the label nor we had the money to print more than 550 copies, so we made do with these at first and gave away some promos and finally covered the expenses. Then we printed an extra 450, as far as we were told. That adds to a 1000 copies. It was also red colored vinyl and a 10" cut, totally unusual at this time for my country.
With no money for publicity and due to crappy distribution, not all of them were sold. Overall, as a band we got paid the equivalent of 250 to 300 euros (we had drunk and smoked more than that to record it, of course). Some years later the (really small) label shut down and sold all stock to the distributor. We got nothing. I saw then a few copies in the low-price section of some stores sold for about 3 euros. I had no interest then in buying my own records, yet I felt bad about them selling out so cheap. This was more or less the story of the indie scene in Europe those days, CDs were coming forth. Then the distributor went off too, and that was it.
Year 2007, in front of me, this average early '90s indie EP was priced 170 euros.
Qui bono, comrades?
For whom does this used-vinyl market exist? Who profits? The artist? No. The label? Not really, unless they're very clever and they set things up for 15 years ahead. The industry as a whole? I doubt it. Money spent on old records are not spent on new ones. The "I've GOT to have it" collector? Only if he intends to sell it at a higher price. Some merchants and E-bay? Ahh, yes, I think we're here.
I'm a vinyl junkie. For me a record is always a vinyl record. I go at used-vinyl stores and sit through rows of dirty boxes for hours, literally. I'm always looking for something good but overlooked, or badly appraised. And I like old stuff, which is often highly priced. But I've promised to myself I will never pay a big amount for anything 'rare'. I think the most expensive record I ever bought was X-102's 'Atlantis' second-hand for 25 euros. Because I know where the money goes. How come that when the vinyl market is supposedly going down, some vinyl stores get richer? It's only enough that vinyl stores sell on a 80-100% profit on new records, throw in the 'Vintage', 'LtdEd' and 'Rare' commerce and if you don't get mad, you never will. A collectible vinyl record is the same thing as a collectible stamp, a persian carpet or a silver plate. It's merchandise.
If I share this record through the internet, am I stealing from someone? Actually, not even the stores' owners give a shit cause what they really sell is records, not the music in them. It might even work out good for them, cause if the record becomes famous through the net in 'specific circles' then more people will be willing to pay 170 euros for it. Everything is promotion.
And I really disagree with this whole attitude of 'Limited Edition' releases, which certain labels and artists keep pushing, especially in the avant-garde scene. And I can't understand how music fans who may have really deep knowledge in this field and truly positive intentions, always fall for this crap and support it. A cool folder and 20 minutes of uninspired "Improvisations" (aka rehearsals) or "Experiments" (half an hour with a laptop and an afternoon of writing a page of text to explain why this release is different than last week's) is NOT important by default. But if it's released in only 300 copies and it's a part of a series of 20 similar projects, it will get an article and an ad in the Wire and most or all of it will pre-sale. It's ridiculous. Most of these records would never sell more copies than the ones printed, so it's good they don't print more. But calling them 'Ltd.Ed.' it's only for raising their price.
Don't be fooled. It's more of a cultural thing than it seems. Limited supply raises the prices but also creates an Elite for the richer, the more informed, the inside people, the Savants. Simple people should do the Animal stuff, like dance, shout, smoke, take drugs and fuck at the disco/club/bar remaining ignorant of the Deeper Meaning, while they alone have access to the Higher Forms of Contemporary Art (installations, video art, experimental music, performances, you know) in museums, galleries, art-cafes and similar establishments.
Mass distribution of art brings it closer to everyone so everyone can be inspired by it. That's what 'publishing' is about. If you don't publish you're not an artist. If you publish for the few you're an Elitist. If a label wants to publish a special but expensive edition, they may do it for a number of copies and then present a simpler one for the 'people', us poor bastards who can't afford a 200 euros box set. Or they wait a little for the first one to sell, and then print again or distribute it through the net.
Dance labels are somewhat different. Excluding promos and bootlegs, of course, who play a different role (big discussion). Due to the small average amount of copies printed (from 500 to 2000) virtually all 12''s are LtdEd, so mostly they play with picture or colored vinyl. Hardwax based labels traditionally print an small amount of colored vinyls for the collectors and feed this market anyway, yet they're not too expensive and they always print some pure old good black vinyls for the others. They constantly repress older releases (thus making the older ones more valuable for the collectors...) so they 're always available. The 7x7" pack by Rhythm & Sound's "See Mi Yah" was limited, but was sold at half the normal price and then got re-printed at LP form. On the other hand, I'm not able to find the Deepchord/Echospace 12''s and it's a real shame cause I love their music and I cannot buy anything by them to listen to and play it. Cause it's Limited Edition.
Recently, I heard Jay Haze talking about the Contexterrior project and the rejection of the need for physical existence of the music medium. His ego aside, it's a valid point expressed very well and supported many years by a lot of people. Maybe they're right and surely that's the future. Yet I'm a little old and set in my ways. I am a vinyl junkie. Call me a consumer, if you like. I like to believe I have a right to feed my 'sickness' as long as I want to, without anyone taking advantage of me. I won't store my records in a shit plastic bag and treat them like 'investment'. I wanna be able to enjoy them and play them in front of other people. It seems that soon I'll have to fight for that too.
Not much to say about this. Abstract Thought is another moniker of Drexciya, an one-off project released in Kombination Records (home of The Advent) in 2002.
Interestingly, it's a mostly 4/4 techno beat driven album, fully compatible with other releases of the Kombination label (though slower). Drexciyan electro funk is also included of course, all the custom fat sounds are here with an extra melodic, almost pop touch.
Yet it was not released in vinyl. I never understood that. Because of that it didn't got the support or recognition it deserved. (P.S. Correction here.)
Corresponding to each track a number of Hypothetical Situations are noted in the booklet. I'll transfer them here, along with the playlist. Consider this:
1. Bermuda Triangle
(What if the triangle pivoted over the island of Jamaica, what would become of the population?)
2. Synchronized Dimensions
(What if we existed within three planes of reality simultaneously?)
3. Me Want Woman's Punani
(What if for one week, male sex organs became petrified, how much punani could the average man consume?)
4. Consequences Of Cloning
(What if they cloned a perfect human specimen, but did they clone the perfect god given spirit for this specimen?)
5. Solar Pulse
(What if a solar flare ten thousands time larger than the average flare were emitted, how would this electromagnetic wave effect electrical and communication systems on earth?)
6. Galactic Rotation
(What if the galaxy were thrown off its normal cycle due to dark energy emissions from black holes?)
Abstract Thought - 2002 Hypothetical Situations
This CD it's just CLASSIC. If you like electronic listening music and you've never heard this please do now, you won't regret it. A work of Uwe Schmidt aka Atom Heart aka a million other names (LB stands for his older Lassigue Bendthaus moniker), it was released through KK Records (at first) in 1998.
It's a tribute record, mostly. A number of pop/rock/funk classics are surgically dissected, pieced together and electrobolted back to life by Mr. Schmidt, yet with (some) respect for the originals. And far far away from the nowdays concept for an easy cover track, which constitutes of dropping everything but the beats and the bass, adding some 'dubby' echoes and the currently 'modern' production tricks and cashing on the dancefloor.
The production must have took ages to come to an end. Full of ultra-detailed programming, full of hand-made glitches and clicks and drones and noises before the Clicks 'n' Cuts compilations, it's a digital poem shining like a diamond through a mist of noise. And it shines because of the vocals. It's customary to say (it says so on the booklet) that they were produced by Raw(TM), some self-developed voice-emulator synthesis software, although curiously I couldn't trace anywhere a single line on this elusive source of fractured, vocoderized voices. Once you hear it though the result is very difficult to forget, especially in 'Angie' or 'Silence is Golden', real voices or not.
It's interesting that this album precedes the Senor Coconut's 'El Baile Aleman' as a cover album. The Senor Coconut facade had already been functional, yet 'El Gran Baile' is an electronic avant-guard album with excursions into Latin rhythmology, not an attempt to play or cover pop songs (I'll post it soon). Anyway, I think that later on he decided to have some more fun at the time he was paying tribute to the Robots.
LB - 1998 Pop Artificielle
Generic info on Atom here and here.
I promised on an earlier post I'll upload this. Check the 18 min. long 'Some Kind Of Prayer' which is exactly what it says to be, the techno classic 'Kraak' and the occasional weirdness of the 'Revelations' (the sound of their computer breaking down, if I remember correctly). 'True' and 'Sheap?' are for those moody Sunday afternoon hours.
PWOG - 1995 Record Of Breaks
Part 1 - Part 2